Today I sat, as I have so many times, at Griffin's baseball game. To my right was a familiar mom with her toddler, watching his older brother play. With her today was her parents and her husbands parents. They intermittently, all 4 of them, played with the toddler, cheered on the team, and planned what they were going to cook for dinner.
And I found myself envying them.
My kids don't have 2 complete sets of grandparents. They will never know a grandpa's hug or be able to tell tall tales of fishing with grand-dad or their uncles. Our mother's live far away and can't visit more than a few times a year. Paul and I have family not too far away, but the reality is, they have their own families, friends and grandchildren and so we always feel a little like refried beans in a Mexican combo dinner -- like we belong there, but no one is ever going to call us their favorites. And who doesn't want to be somebody's favorite?
I'm sad for our kids, but to be honest, I'm really sadder for me and Paul. For the logistical and practical help that nearby family can be. For the emotional support and the holiday celebrations. For feeling like an important part of something bigger.
Lest you think that I am feeling like a total orphan today, let me say that of course we do have family in our everyday lives.
They are friends. We have friends from seminary who have seen us through the hardest, most difficult times of our lives. We have friends at work. Friends at the ballpark. Friends at our kids school. Friends that are the #1 reason that we are moving back home to New Orleans. These are the people that brought us meals after each of our children were born. They took care of my kids and my house when Paul was hospitalized for several days a few years ago. They have loved us, prayed for us, laughed with us, and given a face to God's command to "love one another".
Do I still feel sorry for myself? I'd be lying if I said I didn't. I still wish that we had family that lived closer to us, that kept our kids overnight, that knew about all the goofy things we did when we were little and relished in telling our kids what mom or dad did when we were their age.
I have sat in the rooms of women who have had new babies and watched and listened as their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles passed around the new baby, talking on and on about how she looks just like Aunt Libby or how he has Earl's ears, doesn't he? I've heard new daddies on the phone telling their mother in laws where to find the blue nightgown that Susie wants to put on after her shower. I want to cry and say "Cherish this. You are so lucky."
I know that I have plenty to cherish. I am one of the most blessed women on the planet. I have a husband that would do anything for me and three of the most beautiful, intelligent, and funniest children around.
So I will try to make the most of the limited bigger family celebrations and in the meantime, try to cultivate deeper bonds with our friends.
And I will know that in God's kingdom, my family -- and my children's family -- is so big, and so perfect, that these fleeting days are just preparation for what lies ahead....enormous family celebrations where we all belong and are all loved and those minute feelings of insignificance and loneliness are faint memories of this broken old world.